Woo-hoo!  Finally, a new instalment from this summer's tour through Tuscany - and it's a favourite of mine. Having flown in to Italy via Bologna Guglielmo Marconi airport, it made total sense to spend some time in the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy.  However, what wasn't anticipated is just how much we'd adore the location, and end up returning at the end of the fortnight-long trip to soak up even more of the atmosphere!  Notepads and pens at the ready, here's the latest in my Chic Girl's Guide series, looking at how best to spend your time in Bologna...
As you can imagine during the summertime (late June), Bologna was scorching hot.  I'm talking about the kind of temperatures that see your ice cream melt before you've even extended your tongue to lick it.  Insane heat. Thankfully, packing light for the trip meant lightweight, skimpy clothes were all I'd brought and so I've lived to tell the tale!  As I've mentioned before, this trip was all planned last-minute and usually the night before arriving at a new location.  The weekend's Airbnb accommodation was booked once we'd landed in Bologna and it didn't disappoint; it was modest, but clean and with a fantastic central location.  The most important thing to note with regard to accommodation, is that you'll be hard pushed to find any kind of extravagant luxury in Bologna. The beauty lies within the capital's cultural authenticity, rather than flamboyance.
As soon as you're ready to head out into the city, my advice would be to arrange a Bologna City Walking Tour (office located just off Piazza Maggiore), so to provide you with a general map in your mind of the most beautiful and accessible areas.  From there, you can start ticking off some of the most well-known sites including San Petronio Basilica; a half-finished blush pink building protected by guards and admired by anyone and everyone visiting Bologna.  The brilliant thing about the city is how everything is within walking distance, and you're never further than twenty minutes away by foot from your next site.  Speaking of which, the leaning towers of Bologna can be found within five minutes from Piazza Maggiore; an incredible architectural vision and one that will leave you amazed by the tilted overhang of 3.2m!
Keep an eye open while venturing from one historic site to the next, as some of the very best restaurants and cafés are located down remote passageways.  With regard to ice cream, follow the crowds.  Okay, so once you've finished eating your body weight in speculoos-flavoured ice cream, it's time to morph into a culture vulture and discover St. Stephen Basilica; a historical religious complex comprising the Church of Saint John the Baptist, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the courtyard of Pilate.  This was hands down one of my favourite finds while in Bologna.  It's a fabulous location for photos, though do keep in mind it's a religious location and so be sure to roam with respect.  Directly outside St. Stephen Basilica becomes the most special place by night. Tourists and locals alike perch on the walls (myself included) to eat snacks and listen to visitors playing the guitar and singing well past midnight.

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Don't forget to try the local dish of Tortellini, which is available at most restaurants and will absolutely blow your mind.  If you're yet to fill your camera with any images for Instagram, make the most of your last few hours by wandering through the Porticoes.  The walkways are lined with arches and columns, as well as finely decorated ceilings.  If you're leaving the city via the train station, you're in the perfect location for posing a dramatic dress or two on the grand, symmetrical staircase at  Park Montagnola.  Speaking of which, this is a brilliant location during the summertime for casual evening events.  For example, while there in late June, we stumbled across a very chill and intimate drink and dance festival featuring reggae music, street food and more fairy lights than you can possible imagine.
Hopefully, it's clear to see why we chose to start and end our Tuscan tour with Bologna.  The city is pure magic. Have you ever visited Bologna before?  Let me know in the comments below!

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With love,

Gabrielle x